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When Self-Care Turns To Self-Destruction

It’s no secret that I stay busy. Don’t get me wrong, I thrive on this pace of life, but it’s not for everyone. I’ll be the first to admit when I overcommit, take on way too much, or simply need a break from it all.

But all too often, I see the stress of everyday life become an excuse for losing track of your goals. What’s even worse is you give your bad habits the cutesy nickname of “self-care.” I’m here to say it: you aren’t taking care of yourself, you’re making excuses.

Why We Need Self-Care

Have you been sucked into the high-performance, hustle 24/7, daily grind movement? I love a good hustler – at least in the gym. I’ll yell at you through a workout to keep you going, and I love to see the results when you push past your limits. But, there is an unhealthy obsession we have at being good at everything.

Do you feel that? The perfect mom, wife, friend, and boss lady. That is the “hustle culture” that we live in today. On social media, there are accounts about hustling for what we want in life, boss lady this, mother hustler that. It’s exhausting.

When did being a workaholic turn into a lifestyle? We stay overbooked, running on caffeine and dry shampoo, doing all the things non-stop, and wear it like a badge of honor. When the entirety of your life turns into a non-stop race as fast as you can push it, you’re bound to break.

When it’s all too much, we cry out for self-care. The problem is this space has also been twisted beyond recognition.

What Self-Care Is Not

In the same way we brag about how much we get done as some form of social validation, we also want the world to know when we’ve had enough and are taking some “me time” to reset. Where I see people get off track is what they think is self-care is really more self-indulgence which can do more harm than good in the long run. Let me go through a few examples to show you what I mean.

Unhealthy food “because you deserve it”

Food is a tricky beast. We need it to survive, yet the foods we crave are typically the things we should avoid at all costs. This restrictive mindset unleashes an evil side when we’ve hit our limit on life and convince ourselves it’s ok to eat the whole tub of ice cream or large cheese dip because of the rough day or week you’ve had.

Binge-watching shows “because you need a break”

After a long and busy day, your brain just needs to stop thinking for a bit. So you turn on Netflix to catch up on your favorite show. Three hours later, you’ve only blinked seven times and got up to pee once. You’re dehydrated, and your eyes burn, so you roll yourself off the couch and go to bed.

Staying up late “because it’s finally quiet”

Why is it that the house never seems to really slow down until you’re supposed to be going to bed? You fly in from work, cook dinner, kiss the kids, bathtime, storytime, bedtime, laundry, prep for tomorrow, and it’s 10 pm. So you crawl in bed and scroll social until midnight, only to wake up tired the next day and do it all over again.

Here’s the bad news – those triggers aren’t likely to go away anytime soon if you keep up the same lifestyle. Nothing I’ve explained so far sounds healthy and refreshing – because it’s not. What’s the excuse then?

How To Truly Take Care Of Yourself

Let’s reframe the self-destructive tendencies masked as self-care and learn how to really serve your body.

Treat yourself without guilt

It’s not the end of the world if you eat something unhealthy on occasion. Just be mindful of why you’re indulging and set limits to avoid going overboard. Treat yourself well, and you won’t feel guilty.

Unwind your mind in a healthy way

Take a moment to enjoy a bath, to meditate, or read. These are all healthy ways to unplug and recharge. By setting aside a fixed amount of time to focus on yourself, you won’t get lost in a mindless activity and feel worse afterward.

Give yourself the gift of rest

The way you feel after adequate sleep is infinitely better than the temporary escape of getting sucked into screens before bed. Commit to giving your body the rest it requires to sustain what you put it through on a daily basis.

You Deserve It

These over-indulgent activities we tell ourselves are helping only contribute to the constant drain we all experience. The fastest way to burnout is ignoring what it means to truly recharge, reconnect, and reset.

We have to get back to claiming time for real self-care. This can be a morning or evening routine depending on what fits your schedule. Staying high-performance is great, but you must recognize the benefits of true self-care.

Bonus – Another great way to get some healthy “me time” is with a workout!  You didn’t think I was going to leave that out, did you? Seriously, book a local class, or work out online. Either way, that hour will do wonders for your mind and body.